World Labour Day

For some people life is full of insurmountable challenges. Their lives ensure that they only have access to receive less than the minimum of life’s essentials and they cannot possibly miss any of their labour tasks and still survive. Just standing in one place which appears even more minimalist with just a few machines and the machine’s human operators. There is only one slow fan, one dirty window and a room full of dusty air, dirty smoke and toxic fuel, all these contribute immediately to one’s feeling of ‘suffocation’.  Those compact factories create an illusion for me which shows me simple production, but with genius and strength, Our perception tells us that ‘Artists’ create masterpieces, but day workers are only viewed as replicating manual production. The only thing in common that we see for artists and day workers is perhaps their dedication.

People who live on the margins of society with only the hope of living a bare life with only the minimum essentials,  and hopefully still being capable of feeding a family. The economy that runs in air-conditioned chambers are operating at their finest since there are thousands of hands in the backyards which hardly ever stop. These labourers do not have any dress code but at the end of the day, their attire and appearance  is all the same. They are black-grey skinned, dusky-dirty. Deprived of even life’s barest necessities, these people still manage to live each day with a smile on their face. They are the ‘day labourers’, but to me they are human beings of worth. Humans of worth for all the goodwill they’ve given to society without expecting anything; neither name, nor fame, nor sufficient money.

This World Labour Day has special significance for all of us. However, especially during this pandemic, these impoverished day labourers are the ones who are suffering the most by living on the lowest rung of the economic ladder.

It’s #TimeToCare and to thank our hard-working invisible day workers by doing whatever we can, starting today while we celebrate this Labour Day.  #worldlabourday2020

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GMB Akash 

Photojournalist and Profile Photographer at Panos Pictures, London

Founder of GMB Akash Institute of Photography, Dhaka

TEDxHyderabad:https://youtu.be/sXbmBCzgy8A

TEDxYouth:https://youtu.be/rLG7sPs6MkU

Website: www.gmb-akash.com

Photo Agency: www.panos.co.uk

Photography Workshop: www.gmbakashworkshop.com

Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/gmbakash

Instagram: www.instagram.com/gmbakash

Blog: www.gmbakash.wordpress.com

Twitter:www.twitter.com/GmbAkash

Incredible Women

“Sometimes the strongest women are the ones who love beyond all faults, who cry behind closed doors, and who fight battles that nobody knows about. This blog post is dedicated to honouring women who are living at the edge of the society and who continue their fighting to earn food and dignity but who rarely ever come into the world’s limelight. Even the society in which they are living has never appreciated their bravery. I have met with many of them, discovering up close how women have worked for the greater good and have brought about change in their families and society. This is a way to pay tribute to a mother, sister, wife, daughter, friend and the many roles a woman plays in her life. These personalities have taught me that nothing can kill the spirit of a woman and that is what makes her so incredibly beautiful” – GMB Akash

I am sharing with you few heart-warming real-life stories of Women, Featured first on my Facebook page: GMB Akash

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‘We do everything a man does, our working hours are same. But when I went to take my wage the manager gave me 50 taka less than my male coworker. I asked what my mistake was. He shouted on me and said, ‘You did more job than him. But you don’t wear shirt. You are a woman. You will get always less.’ Next day I came to work by wearing a shirt. All man laughed at me. I ignored and asked him to pay me equal as I wore shirt after listening to him. I clearly saw he was hesitating and was afraid of my bravery. But again he said, ‘He will pay all women equal if all of us can wear shirt.’ He gave me a smile like a fox. I lost hope, knowing no one will wear a shirt. Next day when I arrived to field all women were wearing their husband’s shirt on the top of their saree. I never could imagine the manager would be this much afraid of seeing us together. He paid all women equal to men for the first time in his ten years of brick field’s history. From that day girls call me, ‘Hero’. I don’t mind!’

_ Taslima

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During my whole life I kept my mouth shut to be a good woman. I accepted my fate and all those abuses my entire life but I never could forgive myself. I was ashamed of myself but I couldn’t tell anyone; when at the age of 4 my mother’s own brother used to touch me in bad ways. My mother believed him and even gave me to him to take care of. I couldn’t fight back when my father’s cousin raped me while coming back from school at the age of 5. Crying in pain I told my elder sister. She said, “Do not tell anyone; people will call you a bad girl!” I couldn’t tell my father that the rickshaw puller he reserved for me for my safety to take me to school put his hands in the wrong places when he helped me to get down from the rickshaw. I Told my mother about it and my mother changed the rickshaw driver but she didn’t share it with my father and told me not to share it with anyone. She said, “People will call you bad!” I never could complain to anyone when my school teacher used to touch my back. I could never forget all the abuses that happened to me. I never used to go in front of my uncles when I became a young woman ever again. I was scared of every man in my life.

Every woman dreams about their wedding and their husband. I was also not different from them. But all my dreams were crushed badly as well as all my expectations when on my wedding night I got raped again by my own drunk husband. Even I couldn’t say anything when he brought his friend to my room one night for money. During my pregnancy I used to pray to God, “Please don’t give me a girl because I know she will have to go through all these things I have been tolerating my whole life. But I became the mother of a girl 10 years ago. I never let her hide from my eyes for a minute. I took her everywhere. But I couldn’t keep my mouth shut when that night my husband brought a man into my daughter’s room. I started yelling and screaming insanely. All my anger that I had been carrying my whole life came out as my greatest strength. I couldn’t control myself and took the dagger to stab my husband and the man. They both ran away. I complained to the police and for the last year my husband has been in jail. People call me a bad woman. They say that to me because I had my husband put in jail. I don’t feel shame, rather I feel good when they call me a bad woman. It took 32 years to gather the courage to become a bad woman and shout out for my respect and my dignity.

_Nazma Begum

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I started working as a labourer a year ago. Including me, there are only ten females working at this site. The constructor does not like to employ women. There are fifty men working besides us. They always get break times to drink tea or smoke cigarettes. But we, the female group never get any breaks. For almost a year, the strongest man of our group has been making fun of us every day. Sometimes he said, he can carry more buckets of stones than the women, even when he sleeps. The contractor laughed loudly at his jokes. And sometimes after transporting all the buckets of stones he showed us his muscle and the men laughed at us. A week ago I asked our contractor to give us at least a half an hour break. He mocked me, pointed to the macho man and openly declared that he would give women equal break time, if I or any other woman could beat the man the next day. I looked at our women’s group and they were looking at the ground. On my way back home, my little girl was warning me never to challenge a man. I asked her why, then my five-year-old girl fearfully showed me her muscle and told me, ‘We don’t have this.’ The next day, when I came to work I told them I was ready to take on the challenge. When I started carrying the buckets of stones beside our macho man, everyone stopped working and started clapping. It turned into some kind of game. I had no idea how time had passed. When the contractor asked me to stop I looked at the man beside me, he was lying on the ground, already very exhausted. Then I saw that I had transported fifty more buckets than him. When every woman was screaming with joy, I looked at my girl and she jumped into my arms. I did not say a word. I had to prove to my little girl that, women too have muscle but they do not like to show it off.


_Aklima

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My son, Sahed, continuously cries for milk, but I’m not able to breastfeed him. I have not eaten anything for three days. There is nothing coming from my breasts. I have survived only by drinking water from the roadside ponds.

I delivered my only child in the jungle three days ago. My pain started while fleeing from our house. Shouting from the pain, I collapsed by the roadside. Three women who were also running came forward to help me. They covered me with banana leaves and helped me to give birth to my baby.
For the past two days we have been sitting in a rough, muddy road that runs through a rice field. We become wet from the rain and dry by the hot sunlight of day. There are children and old people everywhere, screaming for food and water. There is nothing to eat. We’ve slept under the open sky for the last nine nights.

When our house was burned to ashes by the Myanmar military, I walked mile-after-mile with my nine-month pregnancy. Everything we carried was taken from us for the river crossing to Bangladesh.I lost track of my husband, Abdul Noor, when we fled. I have no idea if he is alive or not. Maybe he has already been killed by the Myanmar army and my son has already lost his father. Just like he has lost his country.

_Sajeda 25

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I gave birth to my youngest daughter eight hours ago. The only midwife on my island was away from our village to a faraway island for a couple of days. My husband spent hours at the midwife’s door in hope for her return. The weather was not good so he also asked for a boat from a neighbor just in case I had to go to hospital in an emergency. My husband started living in fear since I went to the maternity center for a vaccination. Vaccinations are very important for me, I vaccinated all my daughters. That day I also went for a free maternity checkup. I found out the baby is breech and I might need to have an operation. My husband was upset from that day on; even he dreamed many nights that my daughter and I died during her birth. My husband told me, ’You are not as strong as me. I will sell my fishing net and with the money I will arrange for an operation.’ We are very poor; I stopped him from selling the net which brings food for us. I remained calm, because I am stronger than my man, and I had faith in my power, not as woman, but as a mother. Yesterday morning my pain started, I did everything that I do every day. I sent my husband to work and asked him not to panic. I fed our cows, chickens and then I went to the river to get water. I cooked and did some housework. My husband did not return from work as usual though he was supposed to have reached here by that time. At evening time, I served dinner to my daughters and sat with them to explain that they needed to support me as their father had not arrived on time. It was raining heavily outside and my pain was going out of my control. I asked my elder daughter to pour more hot water in the bowl, as I prepared to have water birth. My daughters started crying while circling me, I told them, ‘If I die, tell everyone that your mother was strong enough to fight more than any man’. The midwife arrived just when my baby was crowning. After having brought the midwife, my husband stayed outside as he could not bear to see the pain I had. He entered when my daughter was placed onto my chest. My whole family cried while the new born was crying. We named her, ‘Sukhitan’. Maybe as a woman I cannot do what a man do, but women are not weak; we can do many things that a man cannot do.

_ Fuyara Begum.

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I move from place to place; from village to village. Everyone calls me beggar Kulsum. You can call me that too. No one knows from where I have come. I never tell anyone who I am. I had a mansion, surrounded by three ponds and four gardens. It was always hard to fall asleep because the smell of the flowers was so strong at night. Oftentimes I felt heaven was my home. And there was always my supportive husband. Every morning I prepared uncountable cakes for him and he never let me wear the same saree more than a few times. I never allowed my maids to clean inside our private rooms in the house; they were responsible for only other parts and outside buildings of the mansion. I had passed forty-seven years of our married life making cakes, watering trees and wakening up at nights alone when he left for business in faraway places. I got married when I was ten; my husband was the only friend I had. I had passed my married life by making cakes and wandering in our beautiful gardens. My husband never let me feel alone in our childless life. I remained happy in his light. One day I went to see one of my sick maids. There I accidently met a woman who was wearing the same wedding bangle I had. Eventually from my maid I found out that my husband kept his second marriage secret from me for twenty years. There he had two daughters and a son. I spent my nights by looking at his face and realized how much he had loved me. Maybe every day he thought about leaving me; maybe during every festival he wanted to spend his time with his new family; maybe he felt guilty when I put my right hand every night on his chest. Because he had loved me and I was his only friend too at one time, I wanted him to be happy without regret. I also wanted a happy memory of my very loving husband with our all ponds and gardens. I convinced one of my loyal maids to spread the news that I accidentally fell in the river and was swept away. She did it as an exchange for all my gold ornaments. You are talking to dead Umme Kulsum. She died twenty years ago. No one cried for her; neither did I. Sometimes people ask me what they should do when I will die and what my last wish is. I have told no one before you. If ever he arrives searching for me tell him I missed our home, gardens and him every single second of my life. But I wanted him to be free from my love. His happiness is what I wanted even if it required letting go of my former life. And I do not regret what I had done. Sometimes in love you have to leave.

_Umme Kulsum

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We five sisters are the heart of our father. I am the third child of my father and he thought I was very useless. But I know he loves me the most because I am very fond of him. After marrying off my two elder sisters, my father only had me to rely upon for keeping his money safe, preparing betel leaf for him, giving him the towel when he goes to the shower and every other household chore. My other two sisters were very young. My father used to search for me by calling out, “Where is my tail?” This is because he thought he is the ‘body’ and I was the unbreakable useless part of him, ‘the tail’.

But I had to leave my ‘body’ one day. That day, when I went to Dhaka in search of work and money, leaving ‘my body’, I didn’t cry at all. How could I cry? My responsibility was more important to me than crying.

I remembered that oftentimes in our family home before going to sleep in our room, I used to hear my father telling my mother with his mellow voice, “I wish we had a son then he could earn money for us. I am getting older and sicker day after day. Who will take care of you all?” One night he started crying loudly and said, “My daughters have become my pain and my main burden now. How will I arrange marriages for all of them? I am a poor farmer.” That night I cried the whole night; the whole night I could not sleep. I promised myself that I will take all the responsibilities of my family. I promised I will never get married before I arrange marriages for my sisters and give a better life to my parents.

I started working at Dhaka in a factory and sent money to my father every month for my family and tried to save some money. During those years my father tried to marry me off. He used to make up various issues to call me home. Every time before going home I used to shave my head so that the groom would not like me.

I left Dhaka after 3 years and bought three milking cows with baby calves and started farming at our house. In our village no girls herded cows or goats. Everyone started talking nonsense about me but I didn’t listen to anyone. Why should I stop? I promised myself that I will prove to my father that if you give opportunities and inspiration to a daughter, she can do anything that a son can do.
In the next four years from the six cows we then had 14 cows and 4 calves. I sell milk every day and cows every year during Eid season. My two younger sisters started working with me. On my farm now 3 other girls are also working from our village.

I built a new house for my parents. I took my mother to Dhaka for her eye operation.

My father is very proud of me nowadays. He always keeps telling everybody of our village “daughters are blessings. I am fortunate I have daughters. They are mothers in your old age. If you believe in your daughters, they can do anything. You don’t always need sons for being proud and privileged but you do need a daughter like my Rotna .”

_Rotna

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My sister is 3 years older than me and I fit into all her dresses. But she never allows me to wear her clothes or touch her creams, oils or makeup. However, last summer for my cousin’s wedding she gave her only new red dress to me to wear and she decorated my hair with her new ribbon that she had never used before. Because we had only one new dress for both of us, only I could attend the wedding.

My sister was always very suspicious about all my work! She always interfered in everything I did. I often used to hide myself from her and yelled at her whenever she wanted to know what I was doing or what was happening in my life! She thought that whenever I do something, I do it wrong. I was so disturbed by her behavior of interfering in my life that I used to pray for her to disappear off the face of the earth. My sister kept poking me about everything and I yelled at her silently.

This was the relationship between us before the day when I saw her cleaning the yard of our school. That day I felt so ashamed and humiliated in front of all my classmates. They were making fun of her and bullying her saying she is ‘a cleaner’ and I am a ‘cleaner’s sister’. I ran to the washroom to hide my tears and stayed there till school finished for that day.


That afternoon I went back home and very furiously asked my mother “why she suddenly started cleaning the school and why people are making fun of me?” My mother slapped me very hard and said, “She left her schooling for you and took the cleaner’s job at the school so that you can continue your education without paying any more. That moment when I felt the slap, it did not hurt me as much as those words did!

The next morning when I went to school, I saw she had started cleaning the yard. When my friends started making fun of her again, I went directly to the library room and took the extra broom and started cleaning the yard beside her! After that day I never cared about what people thought but I cared about my sister who cares so much about me.

Now every day for the last six months I help my sister to clean the school yard. So it takes less time to finish the work and when she finishes she can help my mother. I started to work here six months ago in the brickfield with my father but only on the weekends. And I don’t give a single taka to my parents. Everyone asks what I will do with this money. I don’t answer. Please don’t share this with my sister; I am accumulating this money to buy a red beautiful saree for her wedding. She is my biggest enemy but the one enemy I can’t live without.

_ Nilufa

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Prostitutes don’t expect love in return from anyone. I also don’t expect it. From the very beginning of this life we learn how to live life without being loved back. But for the last 14 days I have been feeling very compassionate for this sick monkey…. I feel that he is far better than any social human being I ever met. This innocent creature even understands love and compassion and can love you back.

I bought this monkey from a street magician two weeks ago because he was looking so sick and the magician was forcefully making him dance and play. It was hurting me so badly that I started quarrelling with that man and wanted to buy his monkey. He was not agreeing to sell his money-making monkey. But I was also not a girl to let the poor monkey suffer. So the man asked for a big amount of money and he thought it would make me leave him because I am a poor prostitute. I told him to sit for a minute and without thinking for a second, I took all my money from my trunk which I had accumulated in the last 3 years making my blood into sweat so that I could get rid of this hell.

I finally could save my baby monkey. Everyone laughed at me and called me crazy but no one will ever understand the satisfaction that I feel. I am feeding him healthily and taking care of him for the last 14 days to make him well. I decided I will leave him in a jungle far from this concrete jungle. I know a prostitute can never be free and live her life in the society of the good people but I believe this monkey can live happily in his jungle

_ Beauty

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When my son brought Sultana home, everyone was angry. No one was ready to accept her. I looked at the face of my daughter-in-law and saw she had no innocence; there was maturity and bravery. My daughters, husband and everyone of my place started warning me how dangerous the girl can be. The day she arrived at home, my kitchen caught on fire because my saree fell into the stove. Everyone was screaming when Sultana brought sand in a bucket and threw it all over the place. She slightly burned her hands but stopped the fire. My daughters were telling me it was a bad omen; they said the new bride created the fire. I stopped them and explained how bravely she saved us. She won my heart in the first place. But no one liked her because Sultana came from the kind of family who can count how many times they eat fish or meat in a year. My husband told me what a loss it was to get a daughter-in-law whose parents could never feed us even once. I asked him why he always dislikes her. He told me because she is black and poor. I told him I am black and my own family is still poor. I asked him if he also thinks I am worthless. I did not listen to anyone because there she was with all her heart and labour pouring happiness into my house.

But after three years there was no child. Everyone had a valid reason to send her off to her parents’ house. But I was there, standing in front of her so no criticism nor bad talk could affect her. But I saw she was suffering badly because of the need for a child. She stopped smiling. One day I called her in the morning and we got ready together and told everyone we were going to my sister’s place. I lied to everyone. We went to the community clinic, and there she received treatment. After six months my daughter-in-law conceived. When my grandson was about to be born my daughter-in-law told me if something happened to her, I should never let the child be given to any other woman. I was there beside her the entire time; I did not say a word without praying. My daughter-in-law survived bravely and gifted me this beautiful grandson.

It’s been forty years that I’ve been working and every inch of my body hurts every minute. But the money I earn is important for my sick husband and family. I hardly have time to play with any of my grandchildren. Some days ago Sultana told me she got a new job for me and for her. I asked her what they were. She handed over my grandson to me and told me that looking after him and playing with him is my new job. I smiled and said, we need money to run our family. And then she showed me a card. I cannot read as I never went to school so she explained to me that she took a job in a garments factory and now I can retire. It’s been a few days since she started working. Yesterday I resigned from my labourer job. From early morning I have been feeling like a child as I do not know how this long day will pass. Whenever my grandson is laughing and playing with me, this brings tears to my eyes. I needed this rest; I badly needed to take a break. And no one understood it except my daughter-in-law who is worthless in everyone’s eyes but mine. She is becoming like my mother.

_Momena (60)

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‘I lost many things in my life and by standing at the end of my life, now I can tell you, how I gained everything what I had lost.

My husband died when during flood, a tree had fallen on him. I was standing just ten feet away from him in water. That night, I was seven months pregnant. After losing my husband, my house and everything I had, I felt to commit suicide. But I became mother after waiting for twelve years for a child. I had to survive for my child, so I came to city to search for work. After so many struggles I gave birth to my son, midwife told me, my son had problem and asked me to be prepared for his death. When he died after seven days, I had no one beside me and had no money. Even if you die you need money but no one came forward to help me. Only some orphan-street children gave me money, so I could do his last work. After buried him when I return to my hut, I didn’t cry. From that day, I no longer look behind what I had lost. Since the day, for thirty years, I had feed one orphan each day from my food. I lost my child but I kept giving the portion of his love to every miserable child I met on my way.

Last five years, I am suffering from tuberculosis and heart problems. Now all those orphan children grew up and taking care of me. I lost one child but now I have hundred’

_Maa Asha

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It took two days to give birth to my son. After his birth, the midwife told me my boy was dead. I could not let her take my baby. I was holding him to my chest and after a few minutes he started to cry. I named him Ibrahim. He was born after my fifth stillbirth. I never let him go out of my sight for a moment. I took his promise every night before he went to sleep: a promise that he would always enable me to hold my head up. When he was fifteen, he started writing poetry secretly. I do not know how to read or write. But a mother does not need to read anything; I could see by his eyes that he was in love. I wanted him to settle soon; wanted to see a house full of my grandchildren. Then the war started. I did not let my son leave me alone for a moment. I wanted to go somewhere where no military could come. That day when we were about to leave our village, I was finishing my prayers.

My son left me without saying anything. I quickly checked his poetry book and saw that it was missing. He was gone with his poems. For four months, I waited in my empty house for his return. People advised me to leave with my life. The whole village left without me. I did not escape. A mother of a freedom fighter cannot be weak. I knew he had to come back to me. Because I had no one other than him. Because he had to write more poetry for the girl who I knew nothing about. I inhaled the odor of my son’s shirt and keep waiting for him. Then one night, a young fighter came with Ibrahim’s poetry book. Ibrahim had died willingly while enabling their bravest fighters escape. His last operation was not successful, and a bomb took his life. They did not get any parts of his body. His friend handed me that diary which he left in the shelter. It had blood in the corner. I inhaled the smell of the blood of my son. I opened and touched a few pages. I did not cry at that moment; I did not want the freedom fighter who stood beside me to think I was weak. I requested him to read the last page of the diary. He read slowly, ‘Maa, I will never cause you to put your head down, I promise.’

_Jebunessa Begum

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My husband was an angel to me! He brought me here 50 years ago to avoid the bad mouthing I had to listen from the villagers every day!

I have no one in this world. My husband was everything to me. Before his death, he always used to ask me, “What would you do after my death? How you will live?” I never realized how much I had to suffer when he is no longer here. Now, I understand, how he had protected me like an umbrella my whole life! Even the day before his death he worked because of me!

Death is what sets my 50 years of love and relationship apart! Many people advise me to beg, so I can easily earn much more money than I earn working here so hard every day.

I begged my whole life! When my parents died and I had to live with my uncle, I used to beg to God to release me from my uncle’s house! I had to beg my husband to resist my mother-in-law when she wanted to re-marry my husband because of my childlessness!

I had to beg my whole life! I begged for a husband, I begged for children, I begged for safety and I begged for my dignity!
But I cannot beg for money! No no, I cannot hold my head up with my hands out! Hard work does not give me pain but indignity does!

I got married at a very young age! I could not learn anything from my family but I learned everything from my husband! He was a very enlightened man with unlimited love and respect for me. I learned from him how to hold my head high.

While other young women who work beside me can carry 12 bricks at a time, I can hardly carry 6 or even 4. But I am grateful to Allah that he still gives me strength to work so I can feed myself. I can earn money to survive and I don’t have to beg!

If my husband had been able to work until the day before his death, then I can too!
I get strength from my husband and respect, love and dignity from my hard work, some things which begging for money never can give me!

_Banu_65

 

International Women’s Day (March 8) is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women.

——————-

GMB Akash 

Photojournalist and Profile Photographer at Panos Pictures, London

Founder of GMB Akash Institute of Photography, Dhaka

TEDxHyderabad:https://youtu.be/sXbmBCzgy8A

TEDxYouth:https://youtu.be/rLG7sPs6MkU

Website: www.gmb-akash.com

Photo Agency: www.panos.co.uk

Photography Workshop: www.gmbakashworkshop.com

Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/gmbakash

Instagram: www.instagram.com/gmbakash

Blog: www.gmbakash.wordpress.com

Twitter:www.twitter.com/GmbAkash

Climate Crisis

Climate change is the greatest threat to human life. Perhaps it’s even the greatest threat ever in the history of human existence. World temperature is rising at an unprecedented rate, resulting in droughts, sea level rising, forest fires, etc. which are taking place more frequently, impacting our environment and human lives.

Climate change is a global emergency, it’s just that simple to understand and isn’t a partisan issue, it’s a moral one and it’s the time to work together to take action to protect our planet.

We have known for a long time that the climate crisis is threatening our lives badly in every possible way and that it needs to be treated like the emergency it is. Now we need world leaders who believe in science and who should fight to protect our planet for future generations from the dangers of this climate crisis. Educating ourselves on this climate crisis is one of the most important steps in taking action. It’s not yet too late to educate ourselves on the facts of this global climate crisis, my friends. Let’s each do our own part from now on, to protect our planet from further destruction.

Let’s save our precious planet and make it the safest home possible for our future generations. Please, let’s not think, ‘Climate Change’ as an individual problem of any country or nation. This is a global phenomenon. To effectively face this crisis, we have to act as global citizens in every part of the world from now on.

This blog post acts as a prism reflecting callous realities and visual metaphors of the worldwide issues of climate change. Every photograph reveals the bare bones of the impact of climate disasters on populations and environments causing irreversible damage to life as we know it forever.

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“Climate change does not respect border; it does not respect who you are – rich and poor, small and big. Therefore, this is what we call ‘global challenges,’ which require global solidarity”

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“Climate change is happening, humans are causing it, and I think this is perhaps the most serious environmental issue facing us.”

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“Sooner or later, we will have to recognize that the Earth has rights, too, to live without pollution. What mankind must know is that human beings cannot live without Mother Earth, but the planet can live without humans.”

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“There’s so much pollution in the air now that if it weren’t for our lungs there’d be no place to put it all.”

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“Due to sea-level rise projected throughout the 21st century and beyond, coastal systems and low-lying areas will increasingly experience adverse impacts such as submergence, coastal flooding, and coastal erosion.”

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“God has cared for these trees, saved them from drought, disease, avalanches, and a thousand tempests and floods. But he cannot save them from fools.”

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“Some species will adapt to new climates. Those that cannot adapt sufficiently fast will decrease in abundance or go extinct in part or all of their ranges.”

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“The greatest gift this generation can give future generations is a HEALTHY PLANET.”

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“Climate change is sometimes misunderstood as being about changes in the weather. In reality, it is about changes in our very way of life.” – Paul Polman”

Shaha Ali (60), a resident of Sariyakandi sits on the banks of the Jamuma River where his house once stood before the eroding river banks caused it to collapse (1)

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“One of the biggest obstacles to making a start on climate change is that it has become a cliche before it has even been understood”

A woman stands beside the River Jamuna where erosion is eating into its banks.

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“The environment will continue to deteriorate until pollution practices are abandoned.”

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GMB AKASH

Photojournalist & writer, received over 100 international Awards, speaker at TEDxPorto and TEDxHyderabad.

For more stories and photos please visit:

Instagram: www.instagram.com/gmbakash

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Photography Workshop: www.gmbakashworkshop.com

Worst floods in years ‘submerge’ Bangladesh villages 2019

During the past weeks, Bangladesh has been experiencing the consequences of the worst flooding in 100 years which rapidly displaced hundreds of thousands of people. Millions of people are still at risk from the lack of food, clean water, shelter, hygienic facilities, telecommunication, electricity, and usable roads along with the threat of waterborne diseases. Many villages have been cut off completely, marooned and inundated by water. Hundreds of thousands have had major damage to their homes or lost them completely in the flood waters. Thousands of schools have been damaged or re-purposed to shelter flood victims.

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I first headed to the flood affected area of Kurigram where all the villages were under water within three days of flooding and had lost all communication. By the time I reached Gaibandha, the sun was setting. I was surviving in a boat and could not see any ground surface upon which to stand even for a short while. That evening, along with the drowning sun, this village was also drowning under water. People were sheltered above water on the roofs of their formerly intact houses. The moaning of old people and the crying of children were making the atmosphere morose. When I reached the house of Afroza begum I shut my eyes. It took two years to rebuild the house of Khadeza after she sold all her cattle as well as taking out huge loans. I was standing in front of her ruined home; a house which had been rebuilt during the last two years.  I could not reply to her anguish while she was hitting me and asking me why I came to take photos and why no one is helping them. No one came to ask them ever how they are managing to fight against the will of nature. She cursed all those happy people who sat silently and motionless in their homes after hearing the villagers’ tragic news.

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I was on the scene in four rural areas for 5 days last week trying to assist people and working. I was in an almost completely underwater village where people had been trying to live on very limited high ground above the water for the previous 12 days. They were placing themselves along the roads and on whatever they could find to stay above the flood water. They were suffering like deserted prisoners in a devastated water kingdom. Their helpless shouts were not getting into the ears of the rest of the people in the surrounding area, nor into the ears of the rest of the country, nor into those ears around the world.

In all the places I went to, there was flood water but not a single drop of clean drinking water. Even my team and I were facing problems to find clean drinking water and food. Inhabitants were collecting water after walking kilometer after kilometer in waist-deep flood water or by boat because all water tube wells were under water and badly affected by the polluted flood water.

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Sajeda Begum said, “I am 55 years old but in all my lifetime I have never experienced this kind of devastating flood!” After facing this catastrophic flood this year they are still fighting to stay alive.

After encountering the ravages caused by the force of nature and the bravery of these suffering villagers whose lives were now underwater, I realized that these people, involuntarily separated from the rest of the country, are stronger than most people and could rule over their own lives when necessary. If these courageous people could get even the support of a shoulder of the more fortunate amongst us to cry on, the rest of us could at least claim to be ‘Human’. If they receive some aid from disaster relief entities, it is only then that our society could claim to be a part of ‘Humanity’.

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Faruk Bepari told me, “Nobody gives us even a single glass of water, not even a small packet of salt. Our children are sick and hungry. Our house went under water; we have been living on part of this elevated road for the last 5 days. We have no one; only God knows what is waiting for us.”

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Last week, while a village was still in shock from the frenzy of the floods and still wading in deep water, my team and I managed to cook food for 500 flood victims. It was one of the most difficult challenges anyone organising without any infrastructure, to cook for a large number of victims in the worse flood devastated conditions that one could imagine. Everything had to be done on the only surface left above water in that village which was the roof of the village school. It was very difficult to cook and distribute the food because there was no dry place to gather all 500 people. It seemed to be an insurmountable and an almost impossible challenge, but we did it. Everything is possible when we do it from our soul.

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I listened to the tragic stories of the misery to which the people have been subjected, some of which I am telling you here along with some photographs and a video. The reality of the impact of this disaster on these people will certainly melt your heart.

Featured first on my Facebook page: GMB Akash

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Dear friends,  my team and I managed to cook food for 500 flood victims. It was one of the most difficult challenges anyone organising or cooking could imagine. Everything had to be done on this single school roof, the only surface left above water. It was very difficult to distribute the food because there was no dry place to gather all 500 people. So it was almost impossible work. But we did it. Everything is possible if we do it from our soul.

Please keep these people and me in your prayers.

GMB AKASH

Photojournalist & writer, received over 100 international Awards, speaker at TEDxPorto and TEDxHyderabad.

For more stories and photos please visit:

Instagram: www.instagram.com/gmbakash

Twitter:www.twitter.com/GmbAkash

Photography Workshop: www.gmbakashworkshop.com

Superheroes of Our Lives

A father is the most ordinary man who through love turned into a superhero! A superhero who grants all our wishes, supports us in our lives when the going gets tough and gives us a shoulder to cry on. For us he does everything! Who is always there to spoiled us with value and etiquette!. The one who motivates us to achieve our every dream by being our strong support system! The one who always stands like a big wall between us and the world when it tries to pull us down.

The only thing he will ask in return is our smiling face! He surely made us believe every person in himself is a superhero. A superhero we look up to no matter how tall we grow or how old we become, we still miss him when he’s not there.

Who needs imaginary superheroes when we have our fathers.

This is a tribute post to all fathers around the world. Although one day is not enough to honor these ‘Superheroes of our lives’, it is with respect and love that I’m publishing it to wish all fathers a very Happy Father’s Day.

Featured first on my Facebook page: GMB Akash

 

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No sir, I am not the boss of our house. Now my elder daughter is the boss of my family.

Last week when she wanted to join the annual swimming competition at her school, her mother wouldn’t allow her to because she was afraid of people’s negative criticism and said, “What will people say seeing your 13-year-old girl swimming in the pond wearing her frock!?” That day, my daughter was crying the whole morning sitting in front of the door and her mother was completely ignoring her weeping! But I couldn’t ignore it. I gave my only t-shirt and towel to her while showing it to her mother and said, “Don’t come home again if you can’t win the race!” I knew she would win the race, because for the last month I have been observing her swimming near the pond competing with other girls of our slum and she was winning. That evening she returned home with 3 new plates as the winner’s prize. She had won all three different swimming races! I can’t tell you how proud I felt when she showed me my name on those certificates as the winner’s father. We are four members in our family.

Now my two daughters and I eat on our new plates. We didn’t share our new plates with her mother. This is her punishment until next year when she gives her permission to our daughter to participate in the competition again. She should learn that other people never want to see the best sides of others. So I am trying to make my wife understand that not caring about and even ignoring what people say about our girls is the best choice we can ever make.


_Manik Mia

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I found out I was wrong my whole life. Throughout my life, I have been running behind a mirage: the mirage of winning and for winning everything, we need money! My whole childhood I saw that without money nothing happens, and no one cares about you, so I wanted to make money!

I am a day laborer and I never could give my family the basic necessities in their lives because whatever I used to earn I used it to buy lottery tickets!
I was so deeply involved in the process of becoming rich in an easy way to the point that buying lottery tickets was the only passion in my life. The more I was careless about my family the more I was up to date about the date of my lottery publication!

I can even remember all the lottery numbers I have ever bought all these years. All my life I have dreamed about winning lotteries! Every day I prayed about and imagined having my name being pulled out of the lottery box!

I have a son but I do not even know who admitted my son into school. I don’t know who took him to the school on his first day or even when he finished his primary level!But I remember, I have always scolded my wife saying “what is the point of going to school for poor people”? I told her several times to tell him to stop going to school and start working with us full time. But she never listened to me.

I had never noticed how time had passed so quickly in my life. But I noticed how hopeless I was becoming by losing the lottery with every ticket! I feel very ashamed when I remember about that day, how insanely I had beaten my son for stealing money for his JSC examination fees that I was saving to buy lottery tickets again.

After that day he didn’t talk to me for months. One day, after coming back from school, my son suddenly gave me a hug for the first time in his life and put his first 800 taka scholarship in my hand! And for the first time I realized, what love is! I realized what the real-life lottery is!

After that day I never bought a single lottery ticket ever again, instead I helped my son with his studies. Sir, he is doing his HSC and he earns his own money by doing tuitions. He says, “You do not have to work anymore after my graduation, Abba”. I can now understand how much he loves his parents.
He will never know how much he taught me; ‘love and success is never a lottery which we can’t win, we earn it with our everyday struggles and passion’!

_Motaleb

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My daughter’s hair was very long. Every morning before I went to the field I combed her hair. Even when she was thirteen years old, I combed her hair. She brought our lunch to the field every afternoon. During Hut day I took her with me to buy little things for our house. Once she bought a mud bank where we saved money for floods. I can clearly remember her face that day when she was sitting near my feet and cried for no reason. I asked her several times what had happened. She hesitantly said she had a fever. I went to the village doctor for medicine. And when I returned, she was gone. My dinner was covered and the mud bank was on my bed. I searched for my girl everywhere, in every house of our village. I thought maybe she was angry with me for some reason or maybe she went somewhere to bring something for the kitchen. Everyone tried to shame me, but I did not feel shame. I was very afraid for my only daughter. When I found out she flew with a boy, I did not trust that. And I waited for her every day. I cannot remember the last time. when I slept peacefully But years have gone by and she never returned. Now I am even more fearful for her, because I know wherever she is staying, she ought to come back to me. Villagers asked me to stop looking for her. They told me to accept that maybe something very bad had happened to her. But my heart did not give up. My heart is still traveling the whole world to find my daughter. Sometimes at night I have nightmares. I hear my daughter telling me she is suffering. I cry in my sleep. I cry and beg to God to return my daughter to me.

– Osman Ali

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My younger daughter has a great sense of humor. She tells a lot of jokes and makes us laugh all the time. The elder one is a bit slow. It takes five minutes for him to understand anything. If he goes to buy anything he will wait to ask until everyone leaves the shop with all their goods. My wife is worried for the elder one most. Whenever they go outside together she gives the responsibility of the elder child to the younger one. My wife gave them their nicknames: Bhola and Biccu. It’s been one year since I have been able to go to the village to see them. Every day I call my children from my neighbor’s phone just to hear their voices. I usually pay for three minutes to talk to the three of them. In those three minutes the three of them only ask when I will be returning to them. After one year I am finally with two of my children. I brought them here to spend a few days with me. They have been cuddling with me since they came. I am not going to work today; I decided to spend the whole day with my children. I usually earn one hundred taka every day. But today is a different day, I do not want to work today. I bought fresh milk and two bananas for my children. They love these things very much. We are laughing because when I asked my younger one what she wants me to buy for them. She said, ‘A pond full of milk and a banana garden!.’

_Hossain Ali

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I poured my blood and sweat into educating my son. For the last 20 years I have been carrying tons of stone on my shoulders from morning till evening in order to pay my son’s educational fees and make him a better human being. My wife and I never spend a single extra penny so that my son would not have to suffer in his college. I forgot the last time that I bought a new shirt for myself or a saree for my wife.

As a father of an undergraduate student, I believed in him and gave him everything I earned for his education. But my blind belief in him become the curse of our lives. Last year I found out that he became a serious drug addict.

There is no difference between an animal and a drug addict. Every night my son fights with me and beats his mother for money. We don’t have any belongings nowadays in our house. He has sold everything we had.

Yesterday after finishing work when I was returning home, I was feeling very thirsty. I went to a shop for a glass of water. I saw that a box of breads was looking at me. But I did not spend a single taka. For the last year, I have been saving every single taka to take my son to a rehabilitation center.

I just came from hospital to work. Last night my son took extra amounts of drugs and sleeping pills. His mother was very worried. But the doctor said they washed out his stomach thoroughly and now he will be fine soon. I asked the doctor, “We saved money to care for him, can you please wash out my son’s brain, heart and soul and everything else to make him fine and good again?” The doctor didn’t give any reply to this old uneducated father.

I am old now. I can’t take the weight of this drug addict son anymore on my shoulders. It hurts and it’s far more painful than any weight I have ever carried in all my years as a stone carrier.

_Jainal

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The night my elder brother married I was only 10 years old. I was so amazed to see the beautiful angelic bride. Everyone was visiting her like she was a queen. Shamelessly, in front of everyone, I said to my brother I will marry a beautiful girl like her! My brother and everyone laughed loudly.

After the marriage she become the favourite person of everyone in our house. She used to take care of everyone. People in our village was very jealous because of the beautiful bride. Eight years passed as in a blink and the only difference was that we got two new angelic daughters in our house as family members.

In the eighth year my brother died during a very simple fever and the scene at home started changing so fast. No one wanted my sister-in-law to stay in our house anymore. Everyone started blaming her that my brother had died. Lots of her faults were suddenly coming out of everyone’s mouths after eight years! Everyone was blaming her, saying that she is cursed and that even her shadow is also ominous for us now. They accused her of being a husband eater. My parents told her to leave the house. She looked in my eyes I saw a worried mother helplessly looking at everyone. At the age of 20 I took a big decision to take the responsibility of her and her two little girls. I said I wanted to marry her.

Everyone looked at me like suddenly they discovered a ghost in front of them. No one agreed when I wanted to marry a widow. My mother cried out and said, “She will eat you too!!” My father wanted to throw me out with them but I didn’t changed my decision to take the responsibility of the woman who is 10 years older than me. Holding two daughters with two hands I left my father’s home 40 years ago.

I don’t believe that only giving birth makes you a good father or mother! For the last 40 years I have been the father of my two daughters. I tried my best to become their father. Everyone says that they look exactly like me. This makes me happy. In my childhood everyone used to say I looked like my elder brother!
In my life I took only one right decision and that was to marry that widow! During my whole my life she loved me more than I love myself and gave me two beautiful angelic daughters; caring daughters who don’t understand anything else except their father.
I am very happy today I became a grandfather this morning! It’s a boy! My daughters named my grandson with my name ‘Mostofa’. Lots of guests come to see Mostofa in our home. I am here to buy some packets of sweets for the guests.

_Mostofa

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When we are able to cook something good, I always hide it from my wife, Buri, and take some to my son. In the moment, it is impossible to stop thinking about my son, Afjal. But Buri always catches me when I go to my son’s house to give them food. My son lives separately, opposite our house, with his wife and son.

Last week I caught a big fish from our Kaliganga River. I can’t remember the last time we ate a large fish. Nowadays I can’t go fishing due to my chronic health condition and cold I’ve had for a while. At my age, I am not able to do any work. Sometimes my wife and I go fishing together. Most times we catch a few tiny fish and then collect vegetables from the riverbank. This is how we’ve been surviving for the last few years.

After cooking that big fish, I secretly tried to take two large pieces to my son, but my wife caught me and started yelling at me.

“You have no shame! When will you feel some shame? They never send anything to you; they never visit you for months. Why do you need to share with them every time I cook something nice for you?”

Yes I feel shame. I feel terrible shame at lunchtimes when I smell chicken or beef being cooked at my son’s house. At those times my wife looks me in the eyes and I am unable to swallow my food. She knows that I love to eat chicken and beef. My son and his wife never share anything with us. Afjal never cares how his mother and father are surviving in their old age, all alone. And we live just steps away from their house.

But I have no regrets. I always pray to Allah that my son and his family will have a wonderful, blissful life – that they should never suffer for want of food or love. I pray too that when they are old, their children will love them, unconditionally.

_Amser Mia (80 years old)

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During our whole marriage, we always wanted a boy. We have three daughters. We gave up hope for a son or for any other children because of our age. But in our old age God give us a son as a gift. I was very ashamed and at the same time very happy when he was born. His sisters gave him his name “Rajkumar” because of his beauty. He is very much younger compared to my age. People used to make fun of me when I used to take him with me to the market calling out, “Why do you bring your grandson with you?” He became my cane in my old age. He was everywhere helping me with my work. I used to look at him surprisingly and used to pray for him to God to please protect him from bad eyes.

He wanted to go to Dhaka to work four years with his friends. I was not agreeing with my wife. I asked her why he needs to go to Dhaka to work when we have everything! But his mother gave the permission and that permission brought tragedy into our lives.

When he called me ‘abba’(father) when returning home after only one year, I couldn’t recognize my ‘Prince’. I was astonished as if looking at a stranger. He was looking very ill and unhealthy! I started crying holding him and yelling to my wife that I don’t need money. I will not let him work anymore.

Like thousands of uneducated parents, I also knew almost nothing about drug use, needles, phensedyl, a codeine medicine, nor addiction. I realized the truth when he started stealing and selling everything we have. He started stealing from our neighbors and everywhere. I thought marrying him off would make everything normal. But nothing worked. We lost our respect, our peace, and our wealth. We lost everything for him. We couldn’t sleep at night. One night he hit me and hit his mother to take money. He was out of control for everything. I tried to control him with my love and anger. But there’s no such thing as control when it comes to addiction. And it takes only one person’s addiction to destroy a whole family. We became more and more worried because he was dying every day. After three years of staying in the village he was just getting worse and he also became the father of a newborn son.

In the middle of one night last year he came into my room. I was very scared seeing him in my room. But in a very mild voice, holding my hand he said; “Abba, please help me; please save my life. My newborn son called me ‘abba’ tonight for the first time.” When my son looks at me he doesn’t see a junkie, he sees his father,He holds my fingers tightly and pleads, “Abba, I want to live!”

‌‘Robi’, my cow, is like another son to me. He has been helping with my farming for the last 4 years. I never wanted to sell him. I don’t know how I will sell this “second son” for saving the life of my other son. I Have not eaten anything since yesterday morning. Whenever I think about selling Robi, I can’t hold back my tears! But I have no other option to save my ill child. I have nothing left for my son’s treatments anymore. I came here to sell my last bit of wealth to continue my son’s treatments. And I want to make it possible for him to be with me during the next Eid Celebration and not in his grave. I want to bring him back from death. I can’t let my child die in front of my eyes!

_Fotik Bepari

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I and my wife, Khalecha always wanted to have a daughter. We married 35 years ago. But every time we had a son. We have four sons and after that we gave up trying for a daughter. My four sons also have four sons which mean I have only four grandsons. Not a single granddaughter!

I am working as a village policeman for the last 30 years. My father, Hossain Ali also was a village policeman. After his death I got this job.I started with 220 taka salary and now my salary is 3200 taka. With this salary it is very difficult to run my family. So I also work in my field when I get free time.
I have great feelings for having a daughter. I lost my mother when I was very young. I wanted a daughter my whole my life so that I can call her “maa”. Maybe that is the reason I have great affection for daughters.

Several times I saved school-going girls from evil teasing by bad boys. One evening while I was coming from the field suddenly I saw a girl running to the river and then she jumped into the river water. For a second I couldn’t think and then in my mind there was only one thing: I had to rescue her. So I dove into the dark water and saved her. Then I took her to her parents’ home. She had fought with her husband and wanted to kill herself.

The next morning I arranged a meeting with both sets of parents and solved their problems. From that day Sheuli has been calling me father. I finally got my daughter after 29 years of waiting!

_Hamidul Islam, 70

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I have been cheated my whole life by my wife. She left me 20 years ago. Every second during these long years afterwards, I have been realizing how badly she cheated me. My only son always yells and complains about me, “Why doesn’t this old man die?”He thinks I don’t hear properly, but I hear! I Always ask God why he doesn’t listen to my prayers and take me to him out of this world?

Last week I was very sick. After several times of calling, my son entered my room in the afternoon. I wanted his help to get down from my bed to eat my lunch. When he held me to get down; I also held onto his shoulder tightly for support. It felt very comforting to me to give my weight to him. I can’t walk properly anymore at the age of100 years. After helping me my son started shouting and yelling again. He was telling his wife, “Never help him to walk; he is just acting and he can walk by himself.” After that, I couldn’t eat.

I remember when my son was only 5 years old. He loved food and was healthy. One day he was crying for some sweets to eat. I took him on my shoulders and walked the entire length of the sand island which is almost 10 miles long, to reach to our village sweetshop to feed him sweets. When he was eating and smiling at me, I forgot how far that whole way was walking in the sand and carrying him on my shoulders.

This world is very selfish. As my wife was.Otherwise, she could never have left me here in this cruel world alone. My wife always used to pray to God, “Please God,take me to you before you take my husband!” I never understood why she did that! I never felt so helpless as I have been feeling these last 20 years after her death. I never knew how ugly and cruel this world was before her death!

My wife betrayed me! She kept a beautiful screen of this world over my eyes all the time. She convinced me how humane this world is. From her, during my whole life, I believed this world was kind and selfless. She never let me know about the ugliness of this world. She betrayed me; because of her I never knew how unkind, selfish, cruel and ugly this world is!

_Nizam Uddin, 100

GMB AKASH

Photojournalist & writer, received over 100 international Awards, speaker at TEDxPorto and TEDxHyderabad.

For more stories and photos please visit:

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The Mru: A hidden Tribe of Bangladesh.

I have spent weeks in the Bandarban district, one of the three tribal populated Chittagong Hill Tract districts, in southeastern Bangladesh. I went to meet the largest hidden Mru tribe and to also visit the most remote indigenous group of Murongs, the fourth largest hidden tribe in the area.

Their smiling and welcoming faces as well as the extraordinary hospitality of my friend’s family with whom I was living, made an ever-lasting impression upon me about this hidden tribe.

I learned from the tribe, how someone could live life and still enjoy every second of it despite the seemingly unsurmountable limitations. Without a doubt, the Mru are a very distinctive and unique people and when I took the time to get to know them and to document them, I found an exceptionally rewarding experience for myself.

I have always found that it is the people who make a place come alive and provide new completely different and unimaginable experiences for the visitor who is fortunate enough to meet them. I felt like an honored guest of these exceptional people and I would like to pay a tribute here of some of the people I encountered by sharing their unconventional lives and photographs with you.

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©GMB Akash/www.gmb-akash.com

The solitary, independent and peace-loving Mru people have lived in the Hill Tract of southeastern Bangladesh and western Burma for centuries – their small population being split almost in half by the border. Many scholars believe them to be the original inhabitants of the region. Mru prefer to live on the remote hilltops; even away from other hill tribes. Their villages are easily distinguished by sacred bamboo totems, presided over by guardian spirits.

Mro (Mru) villagers in the Chittagong Hill Tracts.

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©GMB Akash/www.gmb-akash.com

The Mru people are also known as the as Mro or Murong. The Mru people introduce themselves as Mro-cha. The word ‘Mro’ means ‘man’ and ‘cha’ stands for ‘being’.

They have Mongoloid features but are tall and strong with dark complexions. They are peaceful and timid. Physically, they closely resemble the Semang of Malaysia.

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©GMB Akash/www.gmb-akash.com

Mru are very egalitarian and have no castes and few hereditary positions. They are extremely non-confrontational and take pride in being patient and peaceful. Each household has an equal voice in all village affairs. They are one of the few indigenous peoples who have staunchly retained their own unique culture, rituals and beliefs. With no functional leadership or hierarchies, this lack of higher-level social organization makes it difficult from them to avail of, or cooperate in joint efforts for ‘development’ or cultural preservation. Thus, they are one of the least ‘modern’ of all the hill tribes, consciously preserving their distinct lifestyle. Mru are especially known for their mystical music, ascetic dress, exotic appearance and long, flower-adorned hair kept in topknots. Curiously, mru have no sense of being ‘tribal’ as do other indigenous peoples. They consider themselves just ordinary floks. Mru value their independence above all else, just desiring to pursue a traditional lifestyle free from domination or exploitation.

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©GMB Akash/www.gmb-akash.com

The Mru are a very poor people. Although they inhabit a region that is rich in lumber and hydroelectric potential, the villagers lack the technology and knowledge to improve their economic conditions.

But the Mru excuse their poverty because they believe that Torai (the god) intended them to live this way. At the same time, they pride themselves in their self-sufficiency.

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©GMB Akash/www.gmb-akash.com

The Mro society is patriarchal. Although the father is the head of the family, women play a dominant role in social life. They depend mainly on hunting but many of them are engaged in Jhum cultivation.

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In addition to farming, many of the Mru men are skilled in producing bamboo items. Mru women are especially fond of wearing jewelry and other ornaments made by local craftsmen. Most Murongs are Buddhists although some are Christian converts.

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©GMB Akash/www.gmb-akash.com

‘Mothers: Angels on Earth’

“God can’t be everywhere and therefore, he created Mothers! ” _ Rudyard Kipling

Mothers are God’s angels on earth whose prayers always follow us wherever we are! They are the guardian angels for us, in whose arms we feel the safest. Mothers are the only ones whose smell we can never forget. On their faces we find the warmest smiles that can wash away thousands of sorrows for us. In our mothers’ hearts we never grow up and we never grow old!

No words can define those precious women, our mothers, who give us all the love that anyone could possibly give and they give it unconditionally.

To honour all these ‘angels’ of our lives, I have gathered stories for my blog post which I am dedicating to all mothers on this Mother’s Day.

Happy Mother’s Day to my treasured angelic friends.

I am sharing with you few heart-warming real-life stories of mothers, Featured first on my Facebook page: GMB Akash

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No one thought my daughter could survive. I conceived after ten years of our marriage. When my daughter was born three months earlier than my delivery date, she was very premature. Everyone wanted to take her from me in the village. They told me that I should not get attached to my baby. They warned me that it will cause me severe heartbreak. I screamed at my people and my husband asked them to leave us alone. He told me that he would take us anywhere to save our child. I know from my heart that I could never lose her. No one knew that I got her in my dream; she was inside of me many years ago even before she existed. She was not new to me. I saw her face and felt I knew my child; there can be no other face but her’s. We arrived in the city. For six months my husband and I did not sleep. We did not close our eyes. My daughter was not able to breathe properly and I kept her in my lap all night long. My husband sold his rickshaw for us. Whenever her condition got worse, I held my baby to my chest and whispered in her ears not to leave me. I told her how many years I waited for her. I told her how much we loved her, how much we needed her in our lives. My husband was always silent. But he looked at her wide face and called her Moon. I told him it’s a girl so it’s better to call her Moonlight. And our love survived. Now my daughter is five years old. I can remember how I prayed to God to let my child stay with me and to take away everything else I had. I have got my daughter; her smile is enough to keep my world alive.

_Asma with her daughter Chadni (5)

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Appreciate the food your mother cooks for you. Some don’t have food, others don’t have mothers.

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Worrying is a waste of time. It doesn’t change anything. All it does is steal your peace and distract from your focus.The day I adopted a five-year-old Hindu orphan boy, I was very worried. Everyone yelled at me. My husband wanted to leave me! But you know what, after 30 years of that day my husband died taking my Hindu boys’ hand on his chest. Because of my Hindu boy I have never had to be worried again about anything in my life. My boy builds a Madrasah for orphan children. There are 15-20 children living and getting education from the Madrasah there. Though I have four more children people call me Krishna’s Mother. I feel proud and respected.
After growing up, Krishna always took care of us. So much so that our own children did not even have to take care for us although they were loved by us and they loved us also. Krishna used to take care of his father when he was sick in bed! He used to tell me every day, “My mother and father are my heaven. In my next life, I only want to be your son!”
I have learned, life is like a pottery bank, you get everything back what you’ve put in. I loved him and got his love back for my whole my life. I am a happy person. During my whole life according to my ability, I wanted to do good for people. And I believe, doing good for people and knowing you are doing good makes a fine pillow for your old age.

_Julekha Begum

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“A mother is the only person on Earth who loves you more than she loves herself.”

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A mother’s love for her child never ends. After my husband’s death, my son was the only umbrella over my head. He was everything to me; my son, my friend, my caregiver, everything.

Last year he died on my lap. No one will understand the pain of seeing the lifeless face of their own child. I pray to God no mother shall have to bury their children before them. It’s been almost one year.

Everyone said, “Give it time. Time heals all wounds.” But It doesn’t heal the wounds of losing your child! Though you know they are in Heaven, the pain itself feels like Hell.

I love to eat sweets. Every day he used to say, “Maa let’s go to my shop and eat sweets”. He used to bring me to his sweet shop while holding my hands in order to feed me sweets. But I know he really brought me here in order to protect me from loneliness. I used to sit in his shop with him. People used to laugh but he never cared.

My son died in his sixtieth last year. Now, during the whole day I roam around his sweet shop. I know I will never see my son again. Even though I can’t walk properly, I can’t stop myself from coming here every day to retain his memory.Sometimes I sit the entire day in front of his shop.

My eyes always search for him. After his birth, all my life I never felt alone nor neglected for a second ever again. Now I am so scared of my future without him. My heart longs for his care, for his company, to be around him for my safety and to not feel lonely. After his death, I never felt alive again. A part of my life went with him. I search for him on everyone I see around me. The death of a child is like losing your breath and never catching it again.

_Milon Mala

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“A mother is she who can take the place of all others but whose place no one else can take.”

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‘I lost many things in my life and by standing at the end of my life, now I can tell you, how I gained everything what I had lost.

My husband died when during flood, a tree had fallen on him. I was standing just ten feet away from him in water. That night, I was seven months pregnant. After losing my husband, my house and everything I had, I felt to commit suicide. But I became mother after waiting for twelve years for a child. I had to survive for my child, so I came to city to search for work. After so many struggles I gave birth to my son, midwife told me, my son had problem and asked me to be prepared for his death. When he died after seven days, I had no one beside me and had no money. Even if you die you need money but no one came forward to help me. Only some orphan-street children gave me money, so I could do his last work. After buried him when I return to my hut, I didn’t cry. From that day, I no longer look behind what I had lost. Since the day, for thirty years, I had feed one orphan each day from my food. I lost my child but I kept giving the portion of his love to every miserable child I met on my way.

Last five years, I am suffering from tuberculosis and heart problems. Now all those orphan children grew up and taking care of me. I lost one child but now I have hundred’

_Maa Asha

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“When you look into your mother’s eyes, you know that is the purest love you can find on this earth.” – Mitch Albom

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My son’s marriage is going to held next week. He bought gold ornaments for his new bride. But last night he very much surprised me by showing me the new gold jewelry set he bought for me! This is the happiest day in my life. I had to sell all my jewelry to survive with my 5 children for years after the death of my husband.

I had to sell my bangles that I started using after my marriage as well as my earrings that I got from my father and even the nose pin that carries the symbols of my husband.

Life was very hard for years after years. I started to battle for my 5 children. The battle was all about having some food to feed them. I worked at some people’s house as a maid. They used to give me a half kg of rice after a whole day work and after coming back home I used to cook this rice. Sitting around on the floor I used to feed them from one bowl with my own hand so that I could feed them equally.

We used to live in a room made of cane and it was badly broken-down. I had to spend night after night not sleeping to protect my girls from evil people.

I could not send my daughters to school! When feeding 5 children everyday was already the biggest challenge, how could I send them to school? Even I could not provide any clothes for my 4 daughters. They used to wear used clothes given by the family I was working for. They could not go to school wearing old ragged cloths. In very difficult circumstances I managed to marry off all my daughters. Every day my life was a struggle to find the necessities of survival. I continued to struggle without any hope of light.

But I never could stop the education of my son. He was very interested in his studies. He continued his school wearing my blouse and even his elder sister’s pajamas.

Only his invincible desire for changing our fate and becoming educated changed our lives from night to day. For the last 10 years after finishing his education he has been working abroad. There was a time when I did not have even 10 taka cash in my hands. Now I count thousands of taka every month.

One day when my son was young, I gave him some cold rice with Salt before his school and he asked me, “Don’t we have anything else?” I replied, “Grow up and buy a fridge for me so that I can keep everything you want in it!” With his first salary, my son bought me a fridge. Furthermore, he brought electricity into our home. Never in my wildest dreams did I think of enjoying the delight of electric light in our house. He even bought a colour TV which makes me feel very shy when I watch it.

In my life after struggling so much, I learned one thing: just working hard or getting an education is not enough. One has to carry the invincible desire to change the lives of their loved ones.

_Koyer jaan

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Who needs superheroes when I have my mother?

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